01/13/2017 4:53PM

Sam Houston postpones opening stakes due to Fair Grounds outbreak

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Sam Houston Race Park in Houston has postponed its seven opening-weekend stakes races due to the equine herpesvirus outbreak at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, the track announced Friday. Sam Houston opens its meet Jan. 20.

New dates for the races are to be determined. Sam Houston’s goal is to have the new dates set by the end of next week, track spokeswoman Jamie Nielsen said. She said part of the discussion is whether to keep all the races grouped together, or split them onto different cards.

The postponed stakes were to have made up the annual Texas Champions Weekend on Jan. 20-21. Each of the stakes has a $50,000 purse, and each is restricted to horses bred in Texas. The races traditionally draw horses from Fair Grounds, but Sam Houston is not accepting horses from that track at this time. There has not been an equine herpesvirus case at Sam Houston.

Sam Houston on Friday took entries for its season opener, and carded nine races led by a Texas-bred allowance for fillies and mares on the grass. In all, 75 horses were entered. The track carded additional overnight races to make up for the postponed stakes and will do so again for Saturday night’s card.

Sam Houston’s biggest program comes Jan. 29, when it puts on both the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the Grade 3, $250,000 Connally Turf Cup. There will be no date change to those races, said Andrea Young, president of Sam Houston.